The Nutty Professor (1996)

D: Tom Shadyac
S: Eddie Murphy, Jada Pinkett, James Coburn

Fairly enjoyable remake of the Jerry Lewis vehicle which brought Eddie Murphy his first big hit in years and briefly restored his reputation as a bankable star. Fat but lovable professor Sherman Klump (Eddie Murphy under impressive Rick Baker make-up) discovers a formula which transforms him into the smoothly muscular but obnoxious Buddy Love (Eddie Murphy in spandex). His attempt to woo beautiful Pinkett as both characters meets with various complications, until Sherman realises that Buddy is more trouble than he's worth and that it's what's inside that know the rest.

The film is entirely buoyed by Murphy's performance, which as Sherman Klump is winningly innocent and sympathetic and as Buddy Love is a perfect parody of his own repellent screen persona. He is aided by Baker and David LeRoy Anderson's Oscar-winning make-up, which allows him not only to play the eponymous professor, but every member of his obese family, including a foul-mouthed grandmother. Murphy clearly enjoys himself, but works hard to make each character work for the movie, and the result is fun while its on even though it is too predictable for words and the climactic speech about being yourself is quite nauseating.

Of course, you hardly expect poetry in these circumstances and anyone looking for a few genuine laughs (and some toilet humour thrown in for good measure) is bound to enjoy the hour and half or so spent in the company of a cast and crew doing their utmost to entertain you.

Review by Harvey O'Brien copyright 1998.